Your Opinion Needed! in the Anthology Thread of the June 2010 SDMB Poetry Sweatshop!

It is 8 PM, EDT - the June 2010 Poetry Sweatshop will now close an hour. In the meantime, I will start posting the poems I’ve received thus far, and I’ll start the poll at 9 PM.

Past poets (and I) have greatly appreciated peoples comments and feedback on the works presented here. I have one simple request - please wait one hour until the Sweatshop officially ends at 9 PM before posting anything else. That way, the first threads are all just the poems. After 9 PM this evening, please; we welcome your input!

I just want to emphasize the importance of voting - the poets are depending for an outside opinion of their work. The poll is by secret ballot, so no one need ever know how you voted. As we did for the last two months, I’ve made this a multiple choice poll.

Please note that the poll is seeking your favourite poem - no deep, arcane knowledge of poetry’s inner workings is required. Whichever poems strike a chord with you, please give them your vote. And, though the choice will be difficult, please take the time to choose at least one poem.

I also want to mention that because of our current working method, all of the following poems will be posted under my user name, which may lead people to think that I am trying to claim authorship. Only one of the following poems is mine - the authors’ names may be found in the spoiler boxes at the bottom of each reply.

The three words this month are:


And so, allow me to present our poets’ work for this June…

“A Faustian bargain,” he thought with a grin
A transaction born of destiny,
Fed by a longing from within.

He cared nothing for what it would cost
He knew only that it was his;
A treasure sought from olden days,
A path to enduring bliss.

Yet such deals do have a price;
Be it money, time or soul
And from spite or even playfulness
The Dealer collects his toll.


If you could,
would you
your destiny?

Would you peer
into the future, and
not liking
what you see there
bargain bargain bargain
for something different?

What would you be
willing to relinquish in
the give-and-take
of the transaction?

Your life/love/health/happiness/soul
dearly owned
deeply missed
in the eyes of God
and all His grace,
but given freely
the better to reward you with?

The price could be,
would be
I’m sure.

Especially when
one would surely, and
be negotiating with
Satan Satan Satan
for something different.

What you would be
able to trade in
the commercial arrangement
of the deal…

Your life/love/health/happiness/soul
already abundant
already surplus
in the holdings of Satan
from all his dealings,
but taken anyway,
the better to spite God with.

In Winnipeg

What some would quote as destiny
I term a propensity
An ever-summing stack of tendencies
Sometimes chosen, often defaulted

A transaction
Of ideals
Where one does not exchange
So much as abandon
And adopt anew, sever and graft
Will seldom be observed
Unless from spite, deliberate and calculated

So many coins
Chucked sneering in a jar

Shot From Guns

The transaction took only moments
quite brief, really, for so weighty a matter
the Service had briefed me well
I was ready, and so, of course, was she
what did I carry, you ask, a suitcase of cash?
a gun with a silencer? a cloak, a dagger?
Please. No, too cliched by far
it’s different than that, and so:
a key, a number, then a longer number,
a passport and a small plastic card
the means of safe passage
she knew what it meant
what would come next
think of it, just think of it, as she must have:
a new life, a better future
her own destiny now within her grasp
escaping at last from that tragic, murderous realm
breaking the chains that bound her
leaving behind hunger, fear, a lifetime’s careful silence
beneath the glare of an elite who could have her killed,
or worse, on a whim; tyranny’s coarse hold
soon to be slipped forever.

As that hated flag snapped in the breeze
over our bowed and whispering heads
the guards stupidly staring past us, armed
for an invasion that would never come,
I remember her smile, so radiant
in spite of her worries, knowing that
freedom was just a little closer
but that was twenty years ago, and
I confess I could hardly bear to tell her
that her daughter must remain behind.

Elendil’s Heir

The electronic hiss of the tinted sliding door
The blast of cool to combat the burning heat
She walks in all wisps: her hair, her dress, her books;
And to a quiet corner seeks retreat.

“It’s nice in here,” she sighs with much relief
And settles back into a comfy chair.
He watches her from behind his Keats
And wonders if she even sees him there.

She’s lovely Galatea in his midst.
He worships her so dearly from afar.
He longs to meet her, touch her, feel her kiss;
But surely he will never cross that bar.

She murmurs and he sees her fingers move
Along the page to trace an irksome line
He ponders if Mt. Etna could contain
The height and breadth that all his thoughts enshrine.

A patron interrupts his longing gaze.
Their transaction, like a boulder, blocks his view.
“Polyphemus,” he curses ‘neath his breath
And he checks in their Ovid, overdue.

The scanner, like a Cyclops, grates his nerves.
He wants this cretin off and on their way.
In spite of this he smiles, nods, and bows
Lest irritation elongate delay.

Gone! At last, his path returns to clear.
He settles back to cast his gaze anew.
Gone! Galatea no longer in the chair.
Alas, what’s a poor librarian to do?

Again flows on the river in his heart
The blood that pumps within his poet’s chest
He turns another page to change his skew
And let this stumbling destiny now rest.


Destiny’s a loaded word
used, by and large,
in the negative.
You have no choice.
No transaction can thwart it.
It will come to pass
In spite of all your wiles.

And yet, if Fate
is a concrete slab,
Hope is like a tree root
that patiently cracks the pavement.

Where Destiny is granite,
Love is a lichen,
softening the rocks
and feeding the fauna.

And if Life
is a jagged, rocky shore,
our children,
through countless
generations, like
transform its deadly crags
into a sandy beach.

Humans are like climbing vines
among the razor wire,
rusting and blunting its cutting edge
with Sisyphean optimism.

Le Ministre de l’au-delà

Tell me: How will you
Remember this night?

Anguish. Days too few.
Now go without spite.

Sing, my love, of me
And feel my heart bow.

Cruel. Here is the fee.
Tarry not; go now.

I don’t pity you,
Our destiny is


Saw each other at the grocery store
a year after you said “I don’t want to see you no more.”
You asked how I was doing
flat like it was a perfunctory transaction
instead you just really askin’
like you cared.

I miss you tonight was what I wanted to say.
It’s been a year but the pain hasn’t gone away.
Everytime I think that the worst is all through
I started seeing visions of you.
“I’m doing ok” is all that comes out
in spite of myself.

Last year we were lovers and laughing at all we’d dare
young and light and free, like we were dancin’ on air.
We talked of our love and our destiny that we’d make.
Now we talk of the weather, and I no longer believe
in love or fate.

Now our goodbyes are said once more,
not even waving as we walk out the door.
And driving home I think of the road our lives have taken
and the bends that we speed down along the way
and wonder,
How did we get from saying “I love you” to
“I’ll see you round some day”?


…the June 2010 SDMB Poetry Sweatshop is closed. Now, it is time to read, savour, comment and especially, vote on the eight poems printed above.

In the same vein as the poem I did above (really, what was on my mind last night?) but which I didn’t quite complete in time:

(barely NSFW)

[spoiler]There once was a man from Nantucket
Who came in a bucket.
In spite of his mores,
He pulled down his drawers.

And with his transaction complete
His destiny replete,
He got his cash and drove away.

Thanks again for coordinating this, Le Min!

Hoorah! Thanks, as always, Le Min.

You are most welcome, but it is a great pleasure for me. I enjoy seeing what different poets create from the same basic source material, as well as seeing the consistent voices of regular contributors. Even though I’ve met only a handful of Dopers face to face, I find I take this deadline very seriously indeed rather than face the embarrassment of letting friends down. It is also very helpful on my own path as a writer and a poet to learn to find inspiration spontaneously, and to create, if not a polished, finished work, at least a spark that could be shaped into a flame with thoughtful editing and further drafts.

And as I said earlier in the Logistics Thread, this weekend’s peaceful protests in Toronto being hijacked into vandalism and looting had me very down in spirit, and it was tremendously uplifting to have the pleasure of reading three brand new poems on Sunday morning after a sleepless, anxious night. I am happy to have contributed, in however small a way, to encouraging people to write for no other reason than the sheer joy of creation.

I’m excited I finally managed to get off my ass and contribute! I was so panicky that I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything, and, in fact, stared at the words blankly for a minute or two, going “Oh god oh god oh god.” :smiley: I think I ended up knocking the whole thing out in about 20 minutes, though.

It’s fun as always to read the results, Ministre. I’m sorry I couldn’t participate this time. I was in a foul mood all weekend and didn’t feel like composing anything. But I’m looking forward to next time.

Thank you for organizing this every month Le Min! I don’t know bout the rest of ya’ll, but the hardest part of writing, for me, is getting up off your butt and doing it. Le Min, you’ve managed to encourage and inspire me, and obviously several other folks, to do just that and I’d like to thank you for that. You rock dude.

And the same to the rest of ya’ll! You’re all amazing poets and I’m proud to be counted among you guys (and gals)! :slight_smile:

Another thanks, Le Ministre de l’au-delà. This might be the best batch yet. One of them is so good it gave me the chills.

That would be telling! :wink:

Two poems took an early lead, but things spread out a bit after that… I’ll be interested to see how everything shakes out!

Well, yes, but presumably the author might be gratified to know. :stuck_out_tongue: (And I can already tell it’s not me, unless your voting didn’t match up with it, so I’m a disinterested party.)

Good stuff. Thanks, everybody, and thanks, Ministre!